Local Archives and History: Story time at Kenilworth Branch. Hamilton Public Library, 1980
When I was eleven and twelve, I rode my bike everywhere. I had a strange looking little dog named Pitou. I’d get her cozy in a blanket, stick her in my bicycle basket, and ride all over the place pretending she was E.T.
She loved it.
I loved it.
Unfortunately she couldn’t make my bike fly.
Some days, I’d leave Pitou home and ride my bike over to one of my favourite places on Earth: The Kenilworth Public Library. It was a quick five minute trip and my empty basket carried the books I’d be exchanging.
I’d scoot along Maple Avenue, heading to Kenilworth via Ottawa Street. To give you an idea of how cool Ottawa Street was back in the 1980’s, if you watch The Umbrella Academy, you’ve seen it in the second season continuously because it’s filmed there.
The most magical library I could ever imagine was on Kenilworth Avenue. Built in the 1930’s, it looked like an old manor house.
I’d park my bike, run in the side door, and up a flight of stairs. The children’s section was the entire second floor. It smelled just like an old library should—like dust and vanilla. It was an attic full of hidden surprises.
The glossy floorboards creaked as I bounced across the room, browsing the bookshelves tucked under the eaves of the arched ceiling along the way. When I’d have a stack of books to choose from, I’d curl up in one of the window seats, narrowing down my choices. Whatever stories I chose, I usually checked out a copy of “Alligator Pie“ as well.
When I finally grew up and became a mom myself, my son and I would pull a wagon filled with books back and forth to our library each week. The library up the street from us here is big and beautiful and modern, but doesn’t have that same ”magic” my own childhood library had.
I think I’ll take the small, old ones any day.